My Sister The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
Publisher – Atlantic Fiction
Published – Out Now
Price - £12.99 hardback £2.20 Kindle eBook
When Korede’s dinner is interrupted one night by a distress call from her sister, Ayoola, she knows what’s expected of her; bleach, rubber gloves, nerves of steel and a strong stomach. This’ll be the third boyfriend Ayoola’s dispatched in ‘self-defence’ and the third mess that her lethal little sibling has left Korede to clear away.
She should probably go to the police for the good of the menfolk of Nigeria, but she loves her sister and as they say, family always comes first. Until, that is Ayoola starts dating a doctor at the hospital where Korede works as a nurse. Korede’s long been in love with him, and isn’t prepared to see him wind up with a knife in his back; but to save one would mean sacrificing the other…
There is a joke that your best friend is the one you would trust to hide the bodies. In families that bond is often instinctive we may argue within the family, but you just try and hurt one of my kin and you’ll regret it. How these bonds form and can break is what Oyinkan Braithwaite explores in a smart, funny and surprisingly thoughtful tale of murders in Lagos.
Korede is a dutiful hardworking nurse in a Nigerian family destine close to becoming Head Nurse. Her younger and more glamourous sister Ayoola designs clothes and models them to great success on social media. They are part of a wealthy Nigerian family but under the surface is Korede’s secret. She keeps having to hide the bodies of men that her sister Ayoola killed in self-defence…currently up to three in total which is the level you would if not innocent suggest you’re aiding a serial killer. Ayoola after being fashionably devastated for a few days has suddenly met a new man Tade; but he so happens to be the doctor who unfortunately Korede has been falling in unrequited love at her workplace. Will Korede speak up before it’s too late and she gets another late-night call from her sister?
This is a very unusual tale. All of this is narrated by Korede and on one level seems more a romantic triangle with added sibling rivalry but mixed with a disturbing family relationship at times both funny and tragic. Ayoola completely confesses to killing these men but not for pleasure although she seems to find any type of human emotion for the benefit of others hard. If she wants something, she just has to have it and her morality around how to do that is flexible. Tade quickly falls in lobe with Ayoola and finds himself toyed with alongside other men in her life. Korede who is the warmer person tries to win his affections, but she is no match for the charisma of her sister. But there is little evidence that Tade is the one to capture Ayoola’s heart he may just get her knife.
Korede is very loyal to her sister and mother and we see how they grew up with a tyrannical powerful father which perhaps has influenced their development. We see Korede cannot allow anywhere to get dirty (hence good for crime scenes) while Ayoola has found other ways to express herself. Braithwaite delivers a very realistic sibling relationship of love, exasperation and occasional hatred. You’re not seeing Ayoola as purely a monster, but someone damaged hence we are ambivalent over her denials but can see why Korede. There is plenty of evidence that the Lagos these women live in is not one that women can easily live in. Men play for affections and don’t mind two timing for their own pleasure. Perhaps another reason we cannot trust the men even the charming Tade seems rather fickle. There is also a slight question as to how reliable Korede is as a narrator she has got herself involved with these murders is she completely innocent?
It’s a short novel of just over 200 hundred pages and that works to its advantage as the story powers along in very short chapters examining past and future events. Braithwaite has a really good sense of character and pulls in a number of plot points such as the coma patient Korede confesses all sins to and the appalling level of corruption in the govt and police. If you enjoy finding yourself in the grey area of cheering on Dexter, you may find this tale right up your darkened alley. I think there is room to find out what happened next for these two sisters and even if not I think this is a very accomplished author who is definitely one to watch.